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Hans Burgkmair the Elder

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Hans Burgkmair the Elder
Renaissance (1400-1600) Graphic Arts
(Augsburg, Germany, 1473 - 1531, Augsburg, Germany)

Hans Burgkmair the Elder is considered one of the foremost printmakers of the early Renaissance. Hans the Elder began studying under his father, renowned printmaker and painter Thomas Burgkmair, at the age of 15. He soon became the apprentice of the highly-celebrated printmaker and painter Martin Schongauer, in Colmar, Germany. After his apprenticeship with Schongauer, Burgkmair returned to Augsburg, becoming a master printmaker and opening his own workshop in 1498. Due to the intricacy of Burgkmair’s spatial compositions, historians believe that the artist worked in Italy until 1507. Upon his return to Augsburg, Burgkmair continued printmaking and painting for some of the leading presses of the Holy Roman Empire; the majority of his work was made for Emperor Maximilian I. He made over eight hundred prints throughout his career, including some of the first multi-paneled woodcut prints ever produced. Burgkmair made important contributions to the printmaking techniques of his time. He was instrumental in the development of colored printmaking, an innovator of the chiaroscuro woodcut technique, and one of the first artists to bring Italian Renaissance styles to Northern Europe. Burgkmair created some of the most important prints of the early Renaissance in Northern Europe. Among his celebrated works is a highly distributed series of prints for Balthasar Springer’s travel diary, Die Merfart, which is considered one of the first attempts in European history of accurate depictions of non-European peoples. One of these prints, a frieze titled Natives with Camel and Elephant (1508), is included in the Benton’s collection. Bibliography “Burgkmair, Hans the Elder.” WebMuseum: Burgkmair, Hans the Elder, “Collections Online: British Museum.” British Museum, Mayor, A. Hyatt. “Burgkmair and the Emperor.” In Prints & People: A Social History of Printed Pictures. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1980.

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